UPDATE: This post was published before Luke Walton was hired to be the Lakers’ new head coach
Despite being the hottest, young assistant coach on the market, Luke Walton has his naysayers.
Some say Walton is too inexperienced to lead an NBA team. Others argue that “a 5 year old kid could’ve won with the Warriors,” referencing Luke’s 39-4 run while filling in for Steve Kerr earlier this season.
But what do the guys he actually coached think of his ability to lead a team?
If Mychal Thompson’s version of events is anything to go by, the Warriors absolutely love him.
Thompson, a former player turned broadcaster, is the father of Klay Thompson, the Warriors’ All-Star shooting guard.
While on ESPN L.A. 710 radio earlier this week with Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell, Thompson spoke highly of Walton, and even passed along some intel from inside the Warriors’ locker room.
Below is a transcript of the conversation between Thompson and Trudell.
Thompson: I love Luke Walton. I think he’s perfect for this team. From what I understand, he worked well with the Warriors up there when he had his opportunity [and went] 39-4. The players loved him. The players identified with him.
Trudell: What did Klay say about Luke?
Thompson: He made the right adjustments, used the right tone as far as speaking with his players and motivating his players. He made the right moves. They believed in him a lot, just as much as Steve Kerr. So the players, they endorsed him. They said, “This guy knows what he’s doing.” He’s a good coach and he’s young, he communicates with young guys, he understands young guys. He will bring a new system here a lot like what the Warriors employ up there.
I just think it’s a perfect fit. I get so sick and tired of people telling us, “With all that talent he’s supposed to win.” If you’re going to discount what Luke did as a coach, are you going to discount what John Wooden did? What Pat Riley did? Red Auerbach? Didn’t they have talent? You can’t win without talent.
Trudell: Yeah, a coach has never won without talent.
Thompson: Yeah, still gotta know how to coach it.
By all accounts, Walton is currently at the top of the Lakers’ coaching wish list, and it’s been revealed that they’ve been granted permission by the Warriors to talk with the two-time NBA champion.
The Warriors will allow Walton to speak with prospective teams in between playoff rounds, which means the Lakers can now make contact seeing as Golden State eliminated the Houston Rockets from the playoffs on Wednesday night.
Coincidentally, the Rockets also contacted the Warriors to request permission to speak with Walton about their head coaching position, per Marc Spears from ESPN.
However, Adrian Wojnarowski from The Vertical says Jeff Van Gundy is at the top of Houston’s list.
Van Gundy is also said to be on the Lakers’ radar, and the ESPN analyst is “intrigued” by the job opening, according to a report.